The government of Sindh is to take up the issue of gas suspension to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) scheduled to be held on November 24, 2017(tomorrow) under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. This was claimed by PPP Senator Taj Haider at a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production held under the chairmanship of Senator Hadayat Ullah.
Secretary Ministry of Privatisation Irfan Ali informed the committee that the Federal government has paid salaries of four months (from June to September 2017) to PSM employees after formal approval of Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet. The agenda of the committee was a discussion on the appeal of 3500 retired employees of PSM regarding non-payment of outstanding salaries, gratuity and provident fund.
Chairman Standing Committee took a serious view of illegal spending of Rs 7 billion from accounts of provident fund and gratuity without approval of PSM''s Board of Directors (BoD) and Ministry of Industries and Production. He directed the concerned authorities to send the case of illegal spending of provident fund and gratuity to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He also directed the names of the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and other concerned officers'' to be submitted to the committee''s secretariat.
Expressing his annoyance on non- payment of provident fund and salaries to the retired employees, Chairman Standing Committee said that the "PSM employees gave their working lives to the mill", adding that it was unfortunate that they are not being paid their dues. He argued that Rs 10 billion is not a big amount given that Rs 15 billion was being spent on Metro Project in addition to a regular subsidy.
Chairman Standing Committee stated that PSM is a public sector entity and asked when the government would begin to take appropriate action. Secretary Privatisation informed the committee that Rs 1.52 billion has been released to pay four months'' salaries, adding that Rs 380 million monthly is being paid as salary to existing employees. The outstanding amount of 3500 retired employees was Rs 10.8 billion. He said Pakistan Steel was in loss from 2009. The arrears of retired employees would increase to Rs 15 billion by June 2018. "We are preparing a comprehensive plan to clear dues of retired employees," he said adding that Rs 10 billion from gratuity and provident funds were used illegally.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017